When you spend your hard earned money, you should feel that you have made a good purchase that will meet your needs and what the product has claimed to do. Have you hesitated on making a purchase because you have doubts on whether the product will perform? This is when a sales person will attempt to alleviate those concerns by promising that product will perform, and if not, bring the item back for a refund. This is essentially the warranty or guarantee for the product. With today’s technology, a lot of purchases are made online hence those dialogues with sales people don’t exist. Rather these information is made available on the retailer’s website, or with more research, on the specific product manufacturer’s website.
Knowing your product’s warranty is an important consideration in your purchasing decision. It is a stamp for quality, and that the manufacturer has taken efforts in design, development and testing to defend its warranty. There is often a correlation on quality with the warranty, as a product prone to be defective will likely bankrupt the company if extensive warranty claims are made – as well as the reputational impacts. On the occasion of defects, this is when the warranty comes in where as a consumer you are promised a repair or replacement of the product within a set period of time.
Consider you are shopping for a computer monitor, and you see two reputable brands offering a monitor at $400. Aesthetically, size, and resolution are similar, but one brand offers a 2 year warranty, while the other offers a 4 year warranty. Your $400 investment would give you an extra 2 years of useful life, and piece of mind if you purchased the brand that offered the 4 year warranty. In essence, you don’t need to worry about the monitor breaking down for 4 years, and if it does, you are are guaranteed a free repair or replacement. Essentially, the simple annualized cost will be $100 on the brand with the longer warranty (versus $200 on the other brand). This will result in having more value in your purchases, and also having longer useful life of the product which has corollary benefits to the environment on landfill waste diversion.
On the occasion where your purchase – in this case the monitor – breaks, you would need to submit a warranty claim. This often involves contacting the manufacturer of the product. Usually this information is found in the product’s instruction manual, warranty card inserts, or the manufacturer’s website. Note there can be different websites based on geographies so check carefully if you are contacting the appropriate person for the claim. Normally, you would to provide the following when making a warranty claim:
- the place where you purchased the product from
- the date you purchased the product
- the receipt for your purchase (keep these handy!)
- a description of the defect and photos upon request
- a statement against the warranty and how you want the defect remediated such as a repair or replacement
Some manufacturers may require you to register the product before a warranty claim can be made. Previously, some manufacturers require the product to be registered within 30 days of purchase in order for a warranty to be effective. This is more common for big ticket items as manufacturers want to reduce its claim volumes. I find that this practice is diminishing as it’s not working with the customer – rather more against the customer which is a sure way to destroy customer relationships.
Normally, the manufacturer is responsive to warranty claims as it’s a mechanism to gather customer feedback and improve product quality over the long term. If the warranty time period is still valid and proof of purchase is provided, the manufacturer would work with the customer to remediate the defect. The defective product may be requested to ship back for quality assurance purposes. The manufacturer may refer you to an authorized service dealer to perform the repair, ask you to mail in the defective product, and/or send you a replacement. This process normally takes a few business days and can be done via phone, email or online chat.
In circumstances where a manufacturer denies a warranty claim even though its within the warranty period, there are options which a customer can take, such as:
- writing a letter to the manufacturer’s customer relations department or the CEO informing them of your experience. Senior leadership of successful companies will be very glad to hear direct customer feedback on their products and want to improve.
- informing the retailer where they purchased the product that there are quality issues. This can influence the retailer to procure the product from another manufacturer.
- writing to the Better Business Bureau in your region outlining your experience with the product. The bureaus can offer advice and follow up with manufacturer on business practices.
- filing a complaint against the manufacturer with your local government or regulator governing consumer protection laws. Complaints are examined and investigations are made to see if consumer protection laws are violated by the manufacturer. This can result in issuance of compliance order to the manufacturer, heightened monitoring on the manufacturer, and or even placing the manufacturer on a consumer beware list.
Usually, a manufacturer would want to avoid the cases mentioned above so they would take a special interest in remediate the defective product with the consumer to ensure satisfaction. A lot of efforts are being taken to make the warranty claim process easy and convenient for the customer due to the impression it gives which can lead to further sales with the manufacturer. Word of mouth advertising and good reviews can benefit the manufacturer. To make successful warranty claims, good record keeping of purchase receipts is required, and checking if the warranty period is still in effect. This can help protect your purchasing dollars and investments.